Beyond Here Travel Tips
Exploring the world is not just an opportunity to learn more about yourself, it’s also an opportunity to acquire historical knowledge and learn about the diverse cultures abundantly available on our small planet. The common adage of travelling as fuel for the soul is a simple yet significant truth. We all seek connection, and travelling allows us to see the similarities between cultures, the people, language, and food. This reminds us that our world is bonded by certain shared experiences.
Travelling by yourself is a fulfilling experience because it takes courage to leave the comforts of your home and travel to a foreign land where you don’t know anyone or the language. It also means that you can easily cross things off your bucket list without instigating the consternation of a travelling partner. However, travelling by yourself to new places where every face is a stranger and every road is unknown can get pretty quiet and lonely.
I experienced this the first time I visited Europe. My trip to Edinburgh and London in 2014 were eye-opening but also terribly isolating. Mainly because I left Chris behind in Canada during a time when it was uncertain whether or not we were going to see each other again. As well as, it was my first time travelling somewhere unknown, and I was not equipped with ideas of how to survive alone on the road. Even though the experience in Europe would’ve been more magical arm-in-arm with Chris, I could not let such a possibility dampen my spirits.
Instead of focusing on missing what you’ve left behind at home, it is always a good idea to focus on the potential for adventures in the new country you are visiting. It is inevitable to miss your family, friends, or significant other, but it can be anxiety-inducing if you dwell on it too much.
No matter where you go it is essential to be cautious. Travelling alone means you will have to be extra vigilant about pick-pocketers, scams, suspicious situations, and well, the list goes on. We’ve gathered together some tips to help curb feelings of loneliness and fear while travelling.
1. Be Open-Minded to New Experiences
A vital thing to remember when you travel is to be open-minded to the possibilities of everyday situations. This means the potential of an unexpected adventure or the realities of misadventures which go disappointingly awry. Heading to a city on a whim because you met some awesome travellers, or hopping into a boat last minute for a tour of an island you haven’t heard of before, could be one of the most enjoyable decisions you make on your trip. On the other hand, the tour you booked in advance after reading great reviews about it, might not end up being what you imagined. In this situation it is best to shrug it off and embrace a new adventure.
2. Know Emergency Numbers
When travelling alone you are responsible for yourself and your own safety. It’s a good idea to have the emergency numbers of the city you are visiting in case you get into an accident or something unexpected occurs.
3. Make Sure Your Destination is Known
It is important that at least one reliable person in your life knows your travel destination. Nowadays in our social media-centric existence, we are addicted to letting the whole world know our exact location. Keep your family and friends updated on your day-to-day itineraries. Purchase a SIM card for the country you are visiting at the airport, or better yet, at a local convenience store or phone shop for a cheaper deal.
4. Attend Couchsurfing Meetings
This is a great way to meet people who are travellers like you. If you haven’t heard of Couchsurfing, it’s an online platform for locals to offer their couches to travellers for free. In exchange, they get to make new friends and show you around the city. If you visit the events page on the Couchsurfing site and search for the city you are travelling to, you will see a list of meet-ups for specific purposes – parties, small gatherings at someone’s home, potlatches, beer crawls around the city, and many more. Meetups such as these also offer a chance to hang out with a group and discover something new you are unfamiliar with.
When we travelled to Budapest we decided to join a Couchsurfing meetup at a bar. We met some really interesting people who afterwards decided to visit Szimpla for the night, one of the ruin bars the city is well-known for. We had not planned on visiting this bar, so when we went along with the group, the experience was amazing. Szimpla is a gem and one of the best bars we’ve ever been to. The ceilings are high with multiple floors, and the bar has an endless array of rooms designed in various themes. Meeting up with fellow Couchsurfers was the best decision we made while in Budapest.
5. Stay in a Hostel
Hostels are great for meeting people because you usually share a room with a bunch of random strangers. Certain hostels, such as the kinds you find in Tel Aviv, are social hubs for different kinds of activities – music, performance nights, dance parties, etc. Hostels also provide tours which you can sign up for thereby meeting others in the same hostel who are not your roommates.
6. Sign up for Tours
This brings me to the next point, sign up for tours! Expedition tours are a great way to experience amazing destinations with a group of people. This applies to not just tours in the city you are travelling to, but also travelling to a whole new country with an entire tour group. We’ve signed up for many tours during our travels and each time we found friends whom we could share the experience with.
Besides pre-booking a tour, you can also find a tour shop on your own wandering the new city you’ve travelled to. This will give you the opportunity to ask around about the best tours in the city, and maybe even find a friend in the process.
7. Stay in an Airbnb or Couchsurf
If you want a homey experience in a local house then an Airbnb is a great option. Your host can provide tips and guides for some interesting independent exploring. It will also give you the opportunity to become friends with your hosts who can show you around the city and be a personal guide. This is also true of Couchsurfing where the hosts genuinely want to spend the day with you showing off the beauties hidden within their country. As a bonus, you can crash on their couch for free! Just remember to be grateful for their hospitality by bringing them a gift, or sharing something meaningful to you, for example, a family recipe.
Travelling on your own can be really fun. You can be spontaneous, and explore what you desire without another person’s psychological or emotional baggage. Also, as a single traveller you can befriend whomever you choose for an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Don’t forget to smile and listen. There is a lot to learn about people, and in the process you will learn to connect with anyone and yourself better.
Happy and safe travels!
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